tv [untitled] January 28, 2012 5:00pm-5:30pm EST
the two political parties were not so monolithic in the early '30s. and so you had lots of very, very, very conservative democrats who hated the new deal. but you also had a good many liberal republicans who favored the new deal. so from a political standpoint, congress was a kind of healthier place because rather than debating everything over republican versus democratic, it was really liberal versus conservative and you had both elements of both parties supporting different points of view. as i say, it was a different political time. but one that's still very important. >> okay. thank you. we'll take our first question here in hyde park. if you would pose your question. >> my dear friend cliff, we do need a chair here. okay? all right. i'm a novelist. so i'm going to give you my pseudonym.
and this is a human interest story that usually comes from novels. okay. about eleanor roosevelt, she was such an independent woman. never needing really, sorry, a man to help her and et cetera, et cetera. and we do want gender equality. my question is this. why then in her later years did she need this young man to be -- in the kindered souls, why did she need this young man with her constantly, everywhere? what happened? >> well, i guess agree with your premise. they are not together constantly. mrs. roosevelt wanted people around her all the time. she loved people.
she wanted to know what they thought, what they felt, what their hopes were. what their fears were. she would say that if we close ourself off and we only listen to ourself, that's the number one day for the country to spin downward. eleanor roosevelt had an infinite heart and she -- we all have friends. we all have people that we want with us. and i would not characterize eleanor roosevelt as an independent woman who did not want men around her. she was an independent woman who wanted strong, articulate, thoughtful, patriotic, caring sparring partners. whether they were male, whether they were female. i am not an expert on the imbrog
leos of eleanor roosevelt's heart nor do i want to speculate on what they might be. what i'm concerned about is the historians and the american public and especially people around the world who on a day to day basis are risking their lives for human rights to learn from her vision, and her courage, and her ability to keep dispirit people at the table. i want to give an example of that. in 1938, eleanor roosevelt writes a book. entitled "this troubled world." and when she talks about religion and the connection between religion and democracy and the new burst of freedom,
for calls for every american to read the koran. where would we be now if people had listened to eleanor roosevelt? >> thank you. we'll go to -- >> thank you. and three-quarters answered. the rest i guess is for individuals. thank you. >> thank you very much. we'll go to a question received via e-mail. the question -- this will be open to the panel at large. nobody has mentioned refugees or the holocaust. what sort of advice was fdr receiving on these issues? who would like to start with that? >> well, i'll jump in on that first. again, roosevelt was receiving a good deal of conflicting advice, and thanks to the publication, for example, of the mcdonald diaries which recently came out, we can see much more i wantimat
how much the refugee crisis was on roosevelt's mind. but he is going to be receiving a good deal of conflicting advice. i also think it's important to remember that the america that roosevelt was elected into was a very anti-semitic and racist society that engaged in jim crow laws in the south and so forth and some of that has been allude to today. so he faced a considerable challenge and so did eleanor for that matter in trying to forward a more progressive thinking on some of these issues. but by what we do see, for example, in the mcdonald diaries is that he returns to this question again and again. he sets up the president's commission on refugees that mcdonald headed in the '30s. would meet with mcdonald regularly to discuss what to do. and was looking for a grand design. very rooseveltian in his trying to find a grand and big solution. spe speculating about the
possibility of bringing congress around if there was a gesture from great britain and the other democracies, putting some serious money to help the jewish refugees in europe during the ' '30s, that he could follow with congress. but he didn't feel he could take the lead on this. i think what's really fascinating. if you're interested in the subject i'd urge you to read the mcdonald diaries because if you sit down and read them quickly you get immersed in what's really happening. and once the war breaks out, the conversation stops. you -- it's quite obvious he's obsessed with the war. the other thing that's interesting is the debate that ensues between mcdonald and others who favor trying to support our refugee immigration into the united states, and probably the most anti-semitic member of the roosevelt administration who worked in the state department. and long is quite open, this is
what's very interesting to read this. the debate is fairly open within these governmental channels, between long's position that refugees -- the bringing in of german-jewish refugees in '39 had to stop because the nazis could infiltrate the united states with spies versus mcdonald's passionate desire to do more because the war has now broken out. and it's a very striking debate that goes on between the two men. ultimately roosevelt decides to back long and unfortunately decides that he has to take this cautious approach. and i think it's safe to say most of us would agree that these are not the -- we don't see the roosevelt administration in the best light during the '30s and '40s on some of these question, whether it be interment or the refugee crisis. but it takes looking and i think
it's important to remember that it was on people's minds. they were discussing it. they were debating what to do. unfortunately, they didn't do enough. >> could i add one thing to that? i used internment hoping that the refugee question would come up. it's very clear to me that fdr shut eleanor down on internment. he does not shut her down on the refugee issue. eleanor roosevelt has a frank -- i mean, for those of you old enough to remember department charge cards, where you put the ink roller on top to do an imprint, frank is like a dog tag, if you will, a military i.d. eleanor roosevelt had a frank of her signature made and gave it to people who were trying to
smuggle jews out of europe and said that they had carte blanche permission to use her name and to put her name on any document. she called breckenridge long a fascist. that is not my word, that is hers. she worked with varying degrees of success and varying degrees of failure on different refugee crises. but for those of you who are in the mindset that bombing the tracks to auschwitz would have helped, i certainly understand and appreciate that point of view. but i would like for you to look at the statistics for strategic bombing in vietnam, in the gulf
war, in the current iraq war, and in afghanistan. we do not have drones. and so i have been on both sides of these issues. but if you believe that roosevelt should have bombed the tracks to free people in auschwitz, then you must also weigh on your own conscience the thousands who would have died to free other people. >> one thing -- give you a little -- of what roosevelt was getting from his top intelligence officer in terms of the holocaust. and the short answer was not much. donovan's oss was getting what i would call shards of intelligence in from a number of different sources. of some of the atrocities being committed in the various jewish
ghettos that were set up in eastern europe. and you look through the oss records and you see information coming in in bits and pieces, but donovan really didn't make the holocaust an intelligence priority. and you don't see much reporting or condensed reporting to roosevelt over it. mainly because he knew his customer really wasn't all that interested in, you know, a big intelligence take on the holocaust. donovan to his credit, when the administration set up the war refugee board, toward the end of the war to try to get more jews out of eastern europe, donovan's oss officer served his pay masters for the war effort, the war refugee operations and the order is to provide all the support they could in the operational theater. he did it really because he hoped to glean intelligence from the folks that went out on the rescue missions that he could
find useful for his own oss. so there was not -- there was somewhat of an ulterior motive there. donovan also led the collection of evidence for the nuremberg trials, the war prosecutions. again, he had some uler theiter motives there too. he wanted pay back for the nazis who had killed and tortured his agents, and he wanted to make sure his agents in the occupied areas that had worked secretly for the oss didn't get swept up in the prosecutions on themselves. one final thing, donovan advised against interning the japanese and donovan's own staff thought it was a terrible idea. one of them wrote we'll make enemies of people who were never enemies. when it did happen though donovan sent his own agents into the camps to try and glean intelligence out of japanese
americans there. and to recruit some of them for his own operation. >> speaking of advisers, the critical figure in the whole issue of the nazi attempt to exterminate the jews in the second world war was henry morg morg morganthal and when you see the falling off of discussion about the refugees and the jewish persecution in europe, and it's interesting because the -- in '41 when the russians go -- i mean when the jgermans go into russia, you do get ea major statement at the end of '42 and when he comes along at the end of '43 he's upset with the lack of response. it is his insgation --
instigation and that comes about. >> part of the genesis of this was the incredible fear of the fifth colonists of spies, subversives running around trying to -- native subversives trying to get us to lose the war or to get us into the war and then lose the war. quite frankly, you mentioned, david breckenridge long as -- but roosevelt actually a couple of times, roosevelt was -- many people in the administration were deeply afraid of the fact that they were worried that we did have thousands if not hundreds of thousands of what they called fifth colonists back then. and he in fact -- roosevelt i believe at one point did raise the possibility that refugees coming into the country, that they -- there might be fifth
colonists sprinkled and smattered among them. >> yeah, maybe i misspoke. long said we had to stop any kind of effort of bringing in the refugees because they might contain fifth colonists. >> in terms of yet another connection to duchess county, he mention henry morganthal. he had a son who was the legendary son who lived in dutchess county. >> i was going to ask about morganthal, but you answered that. mr. parrish, wasn't marshall supposed to be head of the supreme command in europe and it was a problem and how did eisenhower get the job? >> thank you. a nice question. you say supposed to. supposed to in the press, yeah.
he's supposed to among a lot of people, because they thought he was sort of his due and that included roosevelt. that as he said once everybody knew -- from the first war, he wanted marshall to be tin the second war. the argument was knead that -- was made that marshall as i said had become so essential, so valuable to the administration relating to congress, that they really did not want to get him out of washington. even for this. and of course this came to be viewed by opponents of the new deal as a sinister plot. obviously, it was a tribute to marshall's value and roosevelt nevertheless put it up to general marshall about let me
mention one other thing too. there were technical reasons why it might not have been a good idea. eisenhower had been in command in -- and on setting up things in britain in 1943 and marshall had never actually had any field command and he would have been starting from scratch if he had gone over and done this. and eisenhower had the advantage of this unique kind of combined headquarters that they had set up for anglo americans and this had created a lot of understandings. and marshall nevertheless would have been in a sense have been a novice in doing it that way. so that for all of that, roosevelt nevertheless said to marshall he kind of left it open to him. he didn't say if i appoint you will you do it and marshall
would not say of course i want to do it. it's the greatest thing you could have in your career. marshall said, mr. president, i'll serve wherever you want me to serve and roosevelt made the famous remark, well, i cannot sleep nights with you out of the country and the appointment went to eisenhower. >> wasn't marshall also known for not -- roosevelt's -- >> i don't think he approved of laughing at jokes much. >> follow-up. >> and it was established if you bomb auschwitz that the germans repair this within days so bombing tracks was not a strategic move. >> okay. thank you. >> quick question on that. why perhaps did roosevelt get advice about bombing the actual concentration camps themselves instead of the tracks? did that come up and how was that dealt with? >> well, it's a -- historians
have looked for a long time to determine whether or not roosevelt was ever asked that question, and to date we don't know whether he was actually asked directly about bombing autobiography wilschwitz or the. but the thing you have to keep in mind and i'll defer to our distinguished military historian here, mr. parrish, on this, you have to keep in mind of course that the u.s. army, air force's capabilities were much more limited. not only in terms of accuracy, but they couldn't get to auschwitz until much later in the war. i think it's important to put the whole thing in context. there's nothing really good you can say about the holocaust. obviously, it's something that defies understanding, but you also have to try to look at what were the capabilities, when did we have capability and what did we do? and in terms of the bombing, it
wouldn't be until much later until we can actually reach that part of europe. >> okay. >> can i add one thing? >> sure. >> they did the strategic bombing survey after the war and it showed how inaccurate how much of the bombing had been then and much less than we thought at the time. so this issue is to me much of the -- it's simply a false issue. >> we have a question from twitter, speaking of general marshall and wild bill donovan. how well did general marshall get along with donovan and the oss? >> in the beginning marshall didn't want any part of the oss. he thought this was a lot by donovan to take over the army and navy intelligence, which oh by the way was exactly what donovan had in mind. so he fought it at the beginning, and in fact, insisted that if roosevelt set up this spy agency that donovan be made
a civilian, donovan wanted to be a major general. marshall didn't want him having any part of having any rank. later on, marshall warmed up to the oss and believed that it had some value. particularly during the torch operation, and so -- and he acted to protect the oss. his own senior general is in charge of intelligence like strong fought the agency throughout the war. in fact, strong formed a secret espionage unit behind donovan's back. they nicknamed it the pond and its mission was not only to spy on the axis behind donovan's back, but to spy on the oss officers and donovan. they even collected information on the oss officers' wives. and marshall always -- i mean, eventually he came to accept
donovan, but he held him at somewhat arm's length. for example, marshall never allowed donovan to have direct access to the magic which was the u.s. army/navy code breaking capability in the pacific. ironically the british gave donovan direct access to their code breaking capability enigma in the european theater. so in many respects donovan had a closer relationship with the british military than he did with his own army. >> okay. we have a question from e-mail. a bit of a long question. some historians see the beginnings of a modern imperial presidency with fdr's actions in 1941 such as sending troops to iceland in july, and the secret atlantic conference with churchill in 1941. could you please discuss? who would like to tackle that? >> well, couple things on the iceland sending troops there. donovan was one of the ones who
was somewhat instrumental in that. he was obsessed with iceland and the whole northern route as being an area where the germans could invade. so he actually hired a -- gosh, i guess he was an expert a climatologist in kind of northern weather patterns. did vast studies for them on iceland because he saw that as a critical point. the other part of the question was that he -- >> regarding the conference with church hill in 1941. >> yeah, i don't know how secret it was. the arcadia conference which was very, very important in terms of first establishing what we're going to be the -- what were going to be the priorities and churchill was arguing for i guess a southern strategy or peripheral strategy and marshall at that time still wanted to have the first priority as a crossing the channel and attacking northern france.
donovan supported churchill and was against the other senior officers that were advising roosevelt. he felt they should invade north africa first and that could be what he called a giant aircraft carrier to launch covert operations into the balkans, in the middle east and eastern europe. >> the atlantic charter of course is very important because it -- it is where the idea of a united nations organization is born to come out of the second world war. it's the first attempt by the british and the americans to kind of state their war aims which by the way included a whole slew of economic ideas including freer trade and so forth. some of which the british cabinet really resisted and churchill was sending messages back to the cabinet and oftentimes the cabinet would oppose him and he'd have to back down. sir alexander kerrduggen from the foreign office called it the atlantic flop.
the british were bitterly disappointed that it didn't result in a u.s. declaration of war. you know, we got to remember that they were still very, very desperate and in desperate straits. of course, hitler had attacked russia which took a great deal of the pressure off. but it was by no means clear what the outcome of this war was going to be. so the british were very, very anxious at that time to use the conference to try to draw the americans directly into the war and were very disappointed when it didn't do so. >> yeah, when you talk of the imperial presidency, i think there's a lot to back that up. especially during world war ii. those instances, but there were others that i think that are more germane. lend lease for example, when it was passed in early 1941 and part of the isolationist argument during 1941 in terms of trying to stay out of the war, one of the major arguments was not only that they didn't think
that we should get into the war, but they thought that franklin roosevelt was trying to become even more of a dictator than they considered him to be already. and in lend lease, he was -- under the lend lease legislation, he was given enormous powers to basically decide who was going to get aid, how much aid they were going to get. how long that aid was going to continue. it was an extremely large granting of power to the chief executive. i mean, as it worked out, it worked out very well. but the isolationist and even nonisolationists, this were some who thought roosevelt had more than enough power and this was a case of way too much. >> yes, i would just like to point out that those powers were given to herbert hoover and then taken away. so what fdr got back with the new neutrality acts after
incredible negotiations, with all parties concerned, public appeals, was the reinstitution of the ability of the president of the united states to decide who we are at war with and what is embargoed. and those were powers that were given to herbert hoover, but were taken away in the early neutrality acts. so what fdr is trying to do with will -- what will become basis for destroyers, lend lease, ultimately the atlantic charter, is to reinsert himself in to the debate in a way to keep the british empire afloat. as to your question -- questioner about the beginnings of the imperial presidency, i would refer them to look at teddy roosevelt and woodrow
wilson before they immediately jump to fdr who used more power directly without congressional approval than did fdr. >> we have a very short amount of time left, so we'll take one final question from hyde park. your name and where you're from? >> i'm francis wyman, from boston college. my question, one of the panelists knows his adore luben, the white house adviser. i wonder if you can offer insights into luben on fdr, bill donovan and any of the other insiders? >> for donovan, he was -- actually, kind of a last-minute savior for him. in the early 1945, when donovan is trying to think of -- or he has a post-war cia in mind, and wants to form it, he put together a plan and shopped it
with the white house and lobbied the white house to go for something like this. harry hopkins was very cool to the idea. j. edgar hoover who had picked up intelligence on this was going bananas over it and doing everything he could to sabotage donovan's idea. luben thought highly of donovan, thought he had done some good work in the oss. he remarked at one point that he'd have a stack of intelligence reports on his desk, most of them from the pentagon. he thought were largely worthless, but he thought the ones coming from the oss was, you know, were valuable. so he went to roosevelt, actually scircumvented him and told him that he ought to give donovan's idea, you know, a proper hearing. that he thought he had some valu